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Resolutions, Anxiety, and You

by bodynutrition.org(more info)

listed in exercise and fitness, originally published in issue 252 - February 2019

New Year’s resolutions, the yearly event that sends us all into the gym on January and causes us to abandon it by February, may be changing.

We at bodynutrition.org conducted a survey of 500 Americans that revealed some interesting things about what keeps us from reaching our New Year’s goals.

Turns out it has a lot to do with your age.

Biggest Obstacles Round

The two biggest obstacles by far were work obligations and anxiety and depression, with the main difference being the respondent’s age.

Nearly 40% of respondents under the age of 20 stated anxiety and depression as their number one obstacle. Whereas, only 27% of people above the age of 20 saw anxiety and depression as their number one obstacle.

Work obligations, on the other hand, were primarily an obstacle for people aged 21-55 with over 35% of them stating work obligations as their number one obstacle.

It’s also interesting to note that women found anxiety and depression a greater issue than men, with 32% of them citing that as their biggest obstacle, compared to only 22% of men. On the flip side, Men were significantly more concerned with work obligations, with nearly 40% of them stating that as their number one obstacle, compared to only 30% of women.

Biggest Obstacles Bar Graph

These results are echoed by several studies, including one by Sheldon Cohen and Denise Janicki-Deverts of Carnegie Mellon University published in 2012. They found that, “in all cases, women reported greater stress than did men,” and, “stress decreased with increasing age.”

Despite the differences in age and gender, it is remarkable how large of a problem anxiety and depression proved to be across all demographics.

Each year our lives grow more and more public, with social media seemingly growing in scope each year. The pressure to constantly preform, look your best, and attract followers seems a likely culprit for these extreme levels of anxiety and depression.

Anxiety and depression can make it extremely difficult to complete goals, or even get out of bed. You go to the gym and feel like everyone there is judging you, so you stop going. This can lead to you being more out of shape and feeling more depressed and anxious. Now you’re not only out of shape, but in your mind, you’re a failure as well.

These downward spirals have led many to abandon resolutions all together, seeing them as possibly more destructive than helpful.

This mindset, and the rise of anxiety as a major issue may be leading to a kind of revolution in resolutions. Working out still tops the list of resolutions, as it does every year, but smaller, more achievable goals, like getting more sleep and self-care are becoming more and more popular.

Type of Fitness Resolutions Round

In fact, among 18-20 year olds, one of the demographics who found anxiety and depression their major obstacle, more chose to get more sleep as their resolution than chose to exercise more.

Mental health becomes a bigger topic in the news each year and, based on these results, it seems clear that mental health will be a leading factor in the way we set goals for years to come.

In a few years, the stereotype for New Year's resolutions may be to get more sleep rather than hit the gym.

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